(which have only mitochondria).
Allmulticellular organisms—nearly all living things that we can see with our eyes—are descended from these first Eukaryotes.
(Though we can’t see them, the vast majority of organisms and species that exist on Earth are the others, the Archaea and Bacteria.) 3’ 4”12a. 1.5 bya,
a half billion years later, Fungi split off from Animals—not from Plants!
(We are more closely related to fungi than plantsare.) (Though we can guess around when this split happened, we only know about it from estimates based on “molecular clocks”. The firstdefinite fossils of fungi only appear about a billion years later in the Devonian).13.
1.2 bya, red algae leave the first fossil record of sexual reproduction.
The sexual recombining of DNA creates untold, innumerableopportunities for new species and for evolution.
Sex is invented before death.
(Individual cells before this can die through accident or habitat loss, but they are not programmed to die, and theoretically can continue to reproduce forever, with no built-in limitation.) (Though onlyeukaryotes reproduce sexually, bacteria also exchange DNA, in a process called conjugation.) 5' 4”13a. 1.1 bya-750 mya, Rodinia forms as most of the land comes together in one continent, and a quarter billion years later breaks up.14.
800 mya, death is invented. Cells become programmed to die
after a certain number of generations or replications.
(In our cells, the telomeres that cap each cell’s chromosomes grow shorter with each replication. When the telomeres disappear the cellstops dividing.)
is an engine that
accelerates change, driving the evolution of all the more complex life forms.
2' 8”14a. 750 mya, a “snowball Earth” (one of two major glaciations that mark the Cryogenian period). The two halves of Rodinia migrate to theNorth and South Poles, ending ocean circulation and leading to the total glaciation of the planet – setting the stage for the next great leap of life.15. 635-543 mya, the Vendian/Ediacaran period. Around
600 mya, complex ecosystems of multicellular organisms emerge.
Multicellularity evolves many times independently in plants, fungi and animals;
these organisms begin to eat one another.
Manyof the earliest organisms are large soft-bodied creatures without limbs or mouths. Nobody knows for sure whether they were multicellular or like a giant single-cell, whether they fed off sunlight or detritus or chemosynthesis. All of them disappeared (before the Cambrian period).15b. 550 mya,
the first shells appear
(small shelly animals like
, then primitive molluscs)
—animals learn new ways to protectthemselves.
Equilibrium comes through the finest calibrations of life with death
, in ecosystems composed of hundreds of species andinnumerable organisms
. The predator-prey dance that gives us the strength of the lion and the speed of the gazelle begins.